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    The door to the King's office had barely closed behind the queen when there was a timid knock. Percy paced the length of the room, his heart pounding in his throat. “Yes, yes, do come in.”

    This time it was General Denman. He was sweating and his skin was ashen. He glanced around the room, relieved to see Percy was alone. Still his voice trembled as Percy looked at him expectantly. He so hated delivering bad news; you never knew if you would survive.

    The General took a deep breath. “I have news to tell ye … th-that, well …” He sighed resignedly. There was no way around it and he’d have to take the chance on how Percy would react. At least she wasn’t here. There was a reason for the old adage, ‘Please don’t kill the messenger’.

    Percy’s face was red and the veins on his forehead stood out. “I know, you fool! The boy was just here to tell me about the army! What are you going to do about it?”

    “No, sire, this is of yet another matter.” Denman trembled as he readied himself for a larger blast of anger. “Sire, it seems King Sh … I mean old Seamus O’Connor is here and so is Pri … I mean to say his son, Cian. They wish an audience with ye.” There. It was done. He held his breath and the urge to bolt from the room.

    Percy seemed to stop breathing, a look of shock on his face. “That can’t be! They have both been banished from New Tara! They would be arrested before they got inside the walls!” He threw his arms around in vague circles. “I’ll not give them entrance to MY castle!”

    Denman stifled an incredulous snort and took great care to keep his voice on the even. Could this man be any more dense? He had to be very careful now, use just the right tone. “Yes Sire, but you must take into account that there is … no one left to arrest them.”

    Percy paced the length of the room and back. “But my loyal subjects should have stopped them!”

    Denman thought, Oh please; Save me from this idiot. He took a long step back, closer to the open door. “Sire, it appears there is no sign of the people. The meadow seems to be deserted. Except for Seamus and Cian. They wait for ye at the river’s edge.”

    He took another step back. “I have a few matters to attend to. Please send for me when ye decide what ye wish to do.” And he bolted out the door.

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